The Garden Project at Forbes College
Spring 2012 Student Leadership
Garden Coordinator: Nellie Peyton(npeyton@)
Harvest Officer: Tess Bernhard (tmbernha@)
Planting Officer: Gaya Morris (gayam@)
Grounds Officer: Naomi Zucker (nzucker@)
Events and Outreach Officer: Andrea Chu (aachu@)
The Garden Project at Forbes College, a student initiative overseen by the Office of Sustainability in partnership with Forbes College, aims to educate the campus about the American food system and its implications for the environment, health and nutrition, culture and the future by modeling sustainable food production and providing fresh, chemical-free produce of the Forbes Dining Hall, the campus Farmers' Market, local vendors and special campus events. It also hopes to provide a space accessible to the University community for meetings, socializing and hosting sustainability-related events.
Agriculture continues to be a leading source of negative environmental impact. Overuse of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer is compounded by soil leaching to create chemical runoff that contaminates water bodies. In addition, the petroleum from which conventional agriculture chemicals are based also transports the average meal an estimated 1,500 miles. Our dependence on fuel for food production contributes to pollution, loss of biodiversity and climate change. Eating foods that are sprayed with chemicals, harvested before natural ripeness and transported thousands of miles affects ecological, social and economic systems in ways that are not immediately evident or well understood by the majority of the population. The Garden Project does not seek to fulfill the gastronomic needs of the campus at large, although it regularly provides Forbes with herbs and salad bar vegetables and inspires special dinners, study breaks and student events. Rather, the Garden Project offers the opportunity for students to learn about the diversity of local crops and crop varieties and to cultivate an appreciation for the time, effort and resources needed to produce what we eat.
The garden connects with the rest of campus through its ties with the Office of Sustainability, Forbes College, Greening Princeton, Slow Food Princeton, the GreenLeaders, the campus Farmers' Market and academic departments. Last fall, the Garden Project held biweekly harvests for the Forbes Dining Hall, Farmers' Market cooking demonstrations and the local artisan ice cream shop, Bent Spoon, on Monday afternoons, Wednesday mornings as well as weekly work days on Friday afternoons. The 79 Alexander Street Garden also hosted a student harvest dinner with Slow Food Princeton and a Sustainability Lecture Dinner with Sherry Dudas of Honey Brook Organic Farm as well as with Nomad Pizza Company. The Garden Project also donated produce for several special dinners at the request of Dining Services.
Ruthie Schwab '09 started the Garden Project in September 2006 and broke ground with the help of other students, faculty, administrators and staff outside of Forbes College in April 2007. The original pilot garden plot (55'x12') was designed and planted along the south wall of Forbes. With the success of the pilot, the Garden Project received approval to expand to the 1.5 acre plot at 79 Alexander Street. Ruthie worked as Garden Project Coordinator during the summer of 2007 with Ben Elga '08 and Diana Bonaccori '08 through the Office of Sustainability and the Princeton Environmental Institute. In the fall of 2007, the School of Architecture hosted a student design competition for 79 Alexander Street planned by the Garden Project and AdHoc, an ARC graduate student initiative.
Did You Know?
In the US, the average grocery store's produce travels nearly 1,500 miles between the farm where it was grown and your refrigerator.
- About 40% of our fruit is processed overseas.
- Even though broccoli is likely grown within 20 miles of the average American's house, the broccoli we buy at the supermarket travels an average 1,800 miles to get there.
- 9% of our red meat comes from foreign countries, including locations as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
- According to the USDA, the US has lost over five million farms since 1935.
- Only 3.5 cents of each dollar (spent on food) actually goes to the farmer.
Related Articles & Links
Burros, Marian. "Newest White House Chef Knows the Obamas' Tastes." New York Times. 28 January 2009.
Osellame, Julia. "University Garden Project Grows." Princeton Alumni Weekly. 1 October 2008.
Stevens, Ruth. "Garden Grows Into a Perennial Learning Project." Princeton University Website. 28 August 2008.
Shpolberg, Maria. "Garden of Eating." The Daily Princetonian. 21 September 2007.
Needles, Zack. "Planting Seeds of Food Revolution in Princeton." The Trenton Times. 31 August 2007.
Aronson, Emily. "Garden Project Aims to Educate Campus About Food Choices and Sustainability." Princeton University Website. 13 August 2007.
McWillams, James E. "Food That Travels Well." New York Times 6 August 2007.
Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. Penguin: New York, 2007.
Kingsovler, Barbara. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. HarperCollins Publishers, May 2007.